In Part 4 we head south-east into the great Plain, called puszta which stretches from the Danube to the Tisza river. At its center lies
Kecskemét, with its salmon colored houses. It is also famous for its apricot brandy barack pálinka. In late August the town is host to a Food Festival at which you may sample a vast variety of tasty foods from all over the country. ranging from the traditional gulyás soup, through tokány (a meat stew), to a dessert of pálacsinta pancakes or the rich cake dobostorta.
In the small towns of the plain you may see displays of the prowess of the local horsemen csiskos. The best display of horsemanship is to be seen at Bugac Puszta, a few minutes walk from the Moricgat-Tanyak stop of the narrow-gauge train, which runs from Kecskemet to the small town of Bugac.
You should see Kalocsa and go to
Baja for a view of the folklore of the Danube valley. Kalocsa is 1,000 years old and the site of Hungary's first cathedral. The present edifice, in rich Baroque style, is more recent. Here, too, you can purchase hand-painted
The most important city is Debrecen, which is Hungary's second largest city and an important town in its history. From here
Louis Kossuth conducted the Hungarian fight for independence from Austria. Debrecen was also the center of the religious Reformation in Hungary. Every Friday, at noon, an organ concert is held in the Great Church (Nagytemplom). Although the church itself was built in the 19th. century, behind it is the original building from which the Calvinist message spread, and in its library there is an interesting collection of 16th. century. bibles.
After sightseeing go to the municipal park, where you may relax in the thermal baths and enjoy a massage.
To see the plains in their original state, visit
Hortobagy National Park, 40km. west of Debrecen, along the banks of the Tisza river. This is the first national park established in Hungary and covers 520km2. Here is more information.
Szeged, almost on the Serbian border is home to a cultural festival every summer and also to paprika, the important ingredient of Hungarian cuisine. The present city was entirely rebuilt after being totally destroyed by a disastrous flood of the Tisza river in 1879. It is a very attractive city with wide tree-lined boulevards. One of the buildings that survived is the old Synagogue, now a theater. The new Synagogue, next to it, built in the 19th. Cent., combines elements of Moorish, Gothic and Romanesque architecture to create a very unusual building.
How To Get There
All major cities are served by the Hungarian National railway. Intercity trains connect most cities with Budapest in less than three hours. They require reservations and an extra charge of 200Ft. In Budapest there are three main stations. Most international trains as well as many IC trains, use Keleti pu. The trains for the Lake Balaton resorts and Pecs depart from Deli pu, as well as some trains to Croatia and Slovenia..Nyugati pu is used by IC t5ains to Szeged and many local trains.
Use www.elvira.hu to get information on train connections in English.
If you are driving, the roads are generally good, but except for the motorways they are usually 2 or 3-lane roads with heavy traffic. The new network of motorways now connect Budapest with the Austrian border via Györ, as well as Szeged on the Serbian border, and Miskolc in the north-east, as well as Lake Balaton at Siofok. Most sections of the motorways are toll-roads. It's best to buy a sticker for at least four days if you plan on extensive travelling on them.
Within cities, in particular Budapest, it is cheaper and more convenient to buy a card for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Wuth a Card you have unlimited travel on the buses, trams and metro, as well as getting discounts for many attractions such as museums. .